Monthly Archives: April 2012

Children Tie the Mother’s Feet


India, 2003

A Chance to Die changed my life. It is the story of missionary Amy Carmichael, a woman who truly sacrificed all for the sake of the Indian children she loved so much.  She was known as "Amah," the Tamil word for Mother. Having just been to India when I first read the book, I devoured it, longing to be back with the Indian children I loved and served so much. Reading the book brought me so much joy and fulfillment as I dreamt of a future serving those brown-eyed beauties.  I soaked up everything I could about India, its culture, and its children. Looking back, though, I see that God had much more for me to learn through this book.  It isn't just a book about India.  It is a book about holy living.  A book about sacrifice.  A book about mothering. Unbeknownst to me, in reading this book, God was forming my foundation for living.  For sacrifice.  For mothering. Amy Carmichael became "mother" to thousands of children through her 50+ years in India.  She rescued children from temple prostitution and gave them a loving home and childhood. However, that wasn't why she came to India.  She first moved to Bangalore and studied the incredibly difficult Tamil language.  She persevered to fulfill her dream. She longed to be an evangelist and to travel around and bring the good news to the people of India.  During her time there, she learned that children were being sold to the temples for prostitution.  Her heart couldn't handle it and she rescued her first child.  And then another.  And then another. She was an evangelist who happened to care for a few children.For a while she tried to do both.  She tried to be a mother while living out her real dreams and passions. However, it wasn't long before she learned the truth of an old Indian proverb,
Children Tie the Mother's Feet
Children tie us down.  Children keep us from going where we want to go.  Children often keep our feet from walking towards our dreams. We fight it, we will it not to be so. But the sooner we realize it, we can accept it.  And the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can embrace it.  And the sooner we can embrace it, the sooner we can discover all the joy and wonder and fulfillment that is in each kiss, each cuddle, each teachable moment, each challenge, and each prayer offered. But when we fight it—when we grumble with each simple request or nighttime accident or scraped knee or sibling dispute or spilled milk or dirty footprint—we lose all the joy. All of it becomes something to bear, something to endure, something that is keeping us from living the life we just know we were supposed to live. And yet, aren't we supposed to be like Christ?  Isn't that our goal as believers?  Aren't we supposed to long to become more and more like our Maker?
  • Does He grumble when we come to Him?
  • Does He answer our requests with a loud sigh, making sure we know He is doing it grudgingly?
  • Does He make us wait simply because He doesn't feel like helping us?
  • Does He complain to Himself or others that we need Him yet again?
  • Does He pretend He doesn't hear us so He doesn't have to help?
  • Does He tune us out and just pretend to listen?
  • Does He get frustrated that we keep coming to Him for the same things, over and over again?
  • Does He get mad because we are asking Him to do something we can do ourselves?
  • Does He turn us away when we just want to rest in His presence?
  • Does He sit and dream about all the things He could be doing if only we weren't here?
  • Does He yell at us saying, "Haven't I told you this a thousand times?"
  • Does He tell us something just once and expect that for the rest of lives we won't ever forget?
  • Does He waste our time with mind-numbing activities so He can take a break from us?
Mothers, we have to embrace it.  Our feet our tied.  But, they are tied by the Master Himself. Amy Carmichael said that she began "to see that she must allow her feet to be tied 'for the sake of Him whose feet once were nailed' ". And so must we.  I believe (and I am reminding myself daily) that in letting my feet be tied, I will find the freedom that I truly long for.  The freedom to give, to love, to experience joy. Just like Christ, "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross," we must be willing to endure for the sake of joy. We need to rest in our ties instead of always struggling to break free. Jesus didn't wrestle to be free.  I don't want to either. I want my life and my years with these little ones to honor Him.  I am His image bearer and I want to be a truthful representation of that image. I want to let my feet be tied as willingly as He let his be nailed.  

Life Around Here

Me and the birthday boy.  Six.  {Sigh}
  Life here is good. Busy, but good.

Six birthdays down, one to go.

A trip to Bali for me and the hubby. Considering I am leaving tomorrow, I guess I should pack something.

Writing for The Daily Digi

Scrapbooking, writing, and templates for Sweet Shoppe Designs.

Doing Couch to 5k again.

Loving on little ones.

Reading How We Decide. Finished The Pilgrim's Progress.

Trying to pack and sell all of our things.  We leave in six weeks.

Mourning that we will probably have to leave our dog here. Seriously, my heart just breaks.

Making plans for summer.  For friends, family, and rest.

Praying for God's direction and provision in all things.

We Need the Word

I often think about what advice I most want to give to mothers. The first thing that usually comes to mind is "Get sleep: you AND your children!"  I sometimes think, "Be consistent."  Other times I think I would say, "Think about the kids you want to launch into the world at age 18 and then find a way to start shaping that kid now when they are two."  And still other moments leave me wanting to scream (at myself and others), "MODEL. MODEL. MODEL.  Kids won't learn what they don't see."

I feel passionately about these things and many more like them. It's true, kids and parents do need sleep. Being consistent is extremely important. Beginning with the end in mind keeps you from fumbling through this thing called parenting. And yes, modeling is extremely important. Kids really don't learn what they don't see lived out in front of them.

But no.  Those aren't my final answer.  As much as I believe in those things, they aren't what is most important.

For us as Christian mamas, being in the Word—and letting it shape and mold us—is the most important thing we can do.

The world has so much it wants to teach us about people, life, and the way things work.  By God's grace, we can learn a lot about life from the world (in fact, I just started a fascinating book about how we make decisions and I am in awe at the complexity of the human brain!)  But true knowledge, true wisdom, and true guidance come from God Himself.

The Word of God 

  • is pure
  • is refreshing to the soul
  • is trustworthy
  • makes the simple wise
  • is right
  • gives joy to the heart
  • is radiant
  • gives light to the eyes
  • is pure
  • endures forever
  • is firm
  • is righteous
  • is more precious than gold
  • is sweeter than honey
  • warns God's servants
  • if kept, yields great reward

Psalm 19

As mothers, isn't that what we want to lead us and guide us?  Don't we want something pure? something true? something that endures forever? something worth more than money? something that gives great reward?

Each of us have been created uniquely.  We each have different talents, dreams, abilities, personalities, quirks, passions, and circumstances.  There is no way that a particular book or article on parenting will work for all of us, no matter how many thousands fill the bookstore shelves.  God has a plan for you in your parenting.  He has different aspects of His personality that He wants to show through you and your family.  If that is true (and I believe that it is), then it is imperative that we go to God for our wisdom and guidance.

In this past ten months, as I have had a renewed commitment to daily time in the Word, I have realized how much I have missed out on in the past.  God has so much truth and wisdom and guidance for me as it relates to life and to mothering and I basically ignored it.  I looked to my own great ideas and I hung onto every word of good books, but I neglected God's revelation of what HE wanted for me and for my family. I learned a lot from those good books but there was something missing. It was God's plan for me. Each day now, as I come in the dark and quiet hours of the morning and open His Word, His plan for me and the personality He has given me, slowly takes shape. It is truly giving light to my eyes.

  • I can't tell you what is right for your family.
  • I can't tell you whether you should send your kids to public school or homeschool them.
  • I can't tell you whether to put your kids in every activity possible or to just choose one.
  • I can't tell you how many kids to have.
  • I can't tell you how many meals a week you need to eat together as a family.
  • I can't tell you if you should put your kids in Sunday School/Youth Group or not.
  • I can't tell you how to spend your money and what activities/things are good for your family.
  • I can't tell you what food and exercise you should get to care for your body.
  • I can't tell you whether you should pack your bags and move overseas or instead stay where you are, ministering to those around you locally.

I can't tell you those things. But God can.

If you want to know how to be a good mother, look to the Word. Don't compare what you are doing to other women (comparison either builds arrogant pride or feelings of inferiority and inadequacy). If you want to know how you are doing as a mom, compare yourself to what God has to say about it. The Scriptures are filled with God revealing His plan for caring for and raising children. Put yourself up against God's standard and then rely on Him to help bring you to meet that standard.  I am far from who I want to be (as a woman and as a mother) but at least now I know where I am heading. Instead of aimlessly floating through these parenting years, hoping for the best and praying that I won't mess up too bad, I have a plan.  I see God's heart for children and for mothers and I am starting to see where He is leading our particular family with our particular set of circumstances.  My answers won't necessarily be your answers. But your answer is there. God chose you for your children and your children for you.  Go to Him to find out why.

Let the Word shape you as a mother.  Let it build you where you are lacking.  Let it prune you where you are growing wild. Let it soften rough edges and sturdy your foundation.

There will always be more books on parenting.  There will always be more blog posts.  There will always be well-intentioned advice from others.  And those are good things, really.  God wants us to open our mouths in wisdom.  He wants us to buy truth.  He wants us to teach younger women how to love their children.  But—and this is a huge but—the only 100% reliable place to receive guidance in the Word of God.  People will fail us.  Books will leave us empty. Good ideas will only get us so far.  We need to feed our souls on what God has to say. If we as mothers skip out on this desperately needed nourishment, we will have nothing to give our families. Nothing.

That's where I am today.  Desperately seeking God for what He has to say about parenting.  Passionately seeking His approval for what I am doing. In the end, when I meet the Lord face to face and I have to give an account of my life, I want to be able to stand before God and know that to the best of my flawed and sinful human ability, I sought Him for the answers of life and for the strength to live those answers out. It isn't always going to be the easy way.  It isn't always going to be the popular way. It isn't always going to be the way that lines up with what I want to do.  But it is the right way.

Our First Seder Meal

The Charoset, Karpas, and the four glasses of wine (Cup of Sanctification, Cup of  Instruction, Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Praise)

Easter comes every year and with it comes pretty new dresses, chocolate bunnies, and colored Easter eggs.  I don't have a problem with a cultural celebration of holidays, but I also want to make sure that my children understand the spiritual significance of these holidays.  Christmas and Easter are much more than fun days with food and gifts to be had.  They are part of God's plan of remembering His birth, His death, and His resurrection.  Amidst the pretty eggs and fluffy bunnies, I want our family to remember and grasp the significance of Christ's sacrifice.

For the past few years, I have really wanted to have a Seder meal with my family.  This is definitely not something I grew up with, but it was something I knew some friends did and it sounded like something I really wanted to try.  For those of you not familiar with it (I sure wasn't!), a Seder Meal is celebrating the Passover.  Obviously, we aren't Jewish.  However, I think that there is a lot to be learned by taking part of this celebration of God's deliverance of His people when He brought them out of Egypt.  Even more so, for us as Christians, it is a celebration of God's deliverance of His people when He gave His life upon the cross as the perfect spotless lamb.  On Good Friday, a day commemorating Christ's death, a Passover meal and order of service provides as way (at least in my mind) of bridging the gap between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

God commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover as a way of teaching their children about how He miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Many years later, Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in accordance with God's command.  There, they shared a final meal before Christ's ultimate betrayal. In the first Passover, a lamb's blood was placed above the doorposts of a home so that the angel of God would pass over and not bring death. In the Ultimate Passover, Christ's blood was placed upon a cross so that God's wrath could be satisfied and we would not taste death. The Passover and Good Friday belong together.

Last year I thought that my kids were finally old enough to attempt our first Seder Meal.  I asked around for ideas of what to do (I had absolutely no idea), and our good friends recommended the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts.  I bought it a day or two before Good Friday and quickly realized that with a brand new baby  and being in the middle of seven birthdays, two days was not long enough to prepare.  So, I put it off a year.  We were in danger of skipping it this year as well, due to another busy spring (those same seven birthdays keep popping up!) and the fact that Jason's birthday was actually on Good Friday.  But I was determined and so even though we celebrated a day late, I am so glad we did it.

I won't go into all the order and  spiritual significance of the event.  You can read about it many places.  You can (and should!) read the book and you can even get a printable copy of the script from the book publisher.  We modified it quite a bit, accounting for time and for the ages of our children (and the fact that Alaina was incredibly sick and she is our only confident reader). But, we made it work and we learned a lot.  Both Jason and I got done with the evening and thought, "Yes, this is definitely something that we will repeat." Our God is a God of memories.  He wanted the Israelites to remember.  He wants us to remember.  And He commands that we teach it to our children.

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance." Exodus 12: 14 "And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’" Exodus 12:26, 27

Left: The Karpas (for dipping in salt water and eating).  Right: The unleavened bread, Matzo.

A bowl for Urchatz, the washing of the hands

Left: Traditionally, the woman of the home wears a white head covering during the service.  She also lights the candles at the beginning of the meal.  Right: Me acting out being a Jewish man who had escaped from Egypt during the Exodus.

Left: Alaina reads the child questions.  Right: Jason dips the hard boiled egg into the salt water, representing Pharaoh's hard heart and the salt water of the Red Sea

Because life is always crazy in a big family, Levi lost his first tooth in the middle of the service.  I was in the bathroom getting changed and I heard Jason say, "Don't worry, Levi. I know exactly what to do."  I came out to see him taking pictures.  Good husband.

A few tips:

  • Plan ahead.  This isn't something that can be thrown together in an hour or two, especially if you have young kids and need to modify the service.
  • Don't worry about it being perfect.  We couldn't get or didn't have time to get some of the items, including the roasted lamb bone.  We used chicken. We made other substitutions as necessary. It is the symbolism that is important.
  • Read through the script and take out any parts that you think are far above the level of your children.  We took out a few parts including setting a place for Elijah.  I figure that we have lots of years to add things in.  I didn't want to overwhelm the kids with too much that they didn't understand.
I had some scrapping time this weekend and already created a page about our experience.  I can't wait to do it again!



Photos from our Passover Seder meal

It was an incredibly busy weekend. Jason's birthday, Good Friday, sorting and packing our house, feverish and puking kids, a Seder Meal, cooking for two Easter events (neither of which I was able to attend due to the feverish and puking kids), Easter baskets, decorating eggs, and clingy baby, and well, just life.  Cooking, cleaning, consoling, teaching, training, talking, dreaming, shopping, reading, and more.  It was a full, full weekend, and yet...I felt so content.  So fulfilled.

I am learning (slowly and yet so deeply) that the more I give myself  to this task of parenting, the more fulfilled I truly am.  As women, we so often go looking for something (that we qualify with "outside my family") that will fill us, give us purpose, and use our gifts.  And yet, my finding has been that the more I give of myself the way God asks me to, the filling comes.  There is nothing amazing and thrilling about filling bottles, giving medicine, painting eggs, washing dishes, or baking bread.  And yet, when we do those things in the name of Christ and as we work as unto the Lord, a supernatural peace and strength come. He has chosen this role for us as mothers.  He will fill us. We have been given everything we need for a life of godliness.  And godliness, to a woman with children, is investing in them fully and without complaint.  It is working with our hands in delight.

When I fight the calling, when I long to do something that I (not God) deem meaningful or important, I find the tasks at home more frustrating, boring, life draining and to be more dumbing of my senses. The more I fight the mundane, the more I loathe it. The more I fight, the less I have of Him.  The more I fight, the more I tell God that His purposes aren't meaningful enough for me. The more I fight, the less I see the wonder in my children.  The more I fight, the more I hinder the little ones from coming to Him.

And so, I am learning to give myself fully to this task.  I am learning to embrace God's call for me. And with that release has come an overwhelming flood of grace, patience, love, life, joy, and fulfillment.